The Lyman B. Brainerd Family Foundation Fund: Turning your family foundation into a donor-advised fund.

As a young man, Dick Brainerd witnessed his father’s successes—and the generosity that accompanied them. His father, Lyman B. Brainerd, president of Hartford Steamboiler and chair of the Trinity College Board of Trustees, had created a family foundation in 1993, because, as his son remembers, “he decided he wanted to continue to keep giving.” Many benefited from the family’s generosity, including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Hartford Hospital and Trinity College.

But some years after their father passed away, Dick and his brother made a key decision concerning the family foundation. “It was getting to a size where the annual overhead costs were getting a little ridiculous,” Dick said, “and succession was very important.”

Dick’s attorney recommended that he consult the Hartford Foundation to discuss charitable options for his family foundation. After conversations with Foundation staff, Dick decided to convert the family foundation to a donor-advised fund. Why?

“Succession is taken care of, the annual accounting costs pretty much disappeared, and I didn’t have any compliance issues with registering with the state of Connecticut,” he said. “No muss, no fuss. It made it a lot easier.”

By terminating the family foundation and establishing a donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation, both the father’s and son’s wishes were met.

“These donors receive the benefit of the resources of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving,” said Lori Rabb, vice president for philanthropic services at the Foundation. “A donor-advised fund allows individuals to focus on their philanthropy and fulfill their charitable goals without worrying about oversight, administration and compliance.”

That held true for the Brainerd brothers, for whom time and cost had both become an issue.

“Administrative time for families can be costly, and some individuals are no longer are interested in spending their time that way,” said Deborah Rothstein, senior philanthropic services officer at the Foundation. “For them, setting up a donor-advised fund allows donor intent to be carried out, but without the burdens of IRS requirements, tax filings and other administrative tasks.”

Calling himself “Hartford-centric,” Dick chose the Hartford Foundation because of its reputation as a trusted community entity.

“I had confidence that the Hartford Foundation would carry out my charitable intentions. It has served the Greater Hartford region since 1925 and is deeply connected to the community. I appreciate the personalized service, knowledgeable professional staff and flexibility the Foundation offers.”

“My father was from the school of thought that you should give while you are alive so you can appreciate it,” Dick said. “I’d much rather give where I can see where it goes and how it does something. This has proceeded exactly as I had hoped, I’m very pleased with the investment results, and I’d do it again.”


The Lyman B. Brainerd Family Foundation Fund

This fund supports a variety of nonprofit programs, in partnership with a fund advisor. You can also contribute to it by donating online here.


Photo credit: Richard Brainerd in front of a portrait of Lyman Brainerd. (Jake Koteen photo)


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